To publish … or not.

InsecureWritersSupportGroupI’ve read about and talked to many writers who admit to having several completed manuscripts filed away. I used to think that was sad, even a waste of their time to having spent probably years writing something wonderful – perhaps a would-be best seller that faded away in a file drawer. Lately, I’m beginning to see the worth of enjoying the process of writing, but then avoid the trap of becoming someone else’s meal ticket.

However, I haven’t quite given up, yet. My latest manuscript, Forbidden, is anxiously waiting for its time to send shock waves into the literary world.

After researching how to write a query letter to an agent, the process of finding an agent began in earnest. There are hundreds who are in the business and work in my manuscript’s genre. That’s the good news.

The waters get a bit murky in satisfying each agent’s particular query letter format. There is no such thing as ‘one fits all’. Some even specifically point out that the order of content must be adhered to, or else. As a result, it takes a huge chunk of time to ensure I satisfy each agent’s particular demands.

As my efforts continue I’ve come across more suggestions on how to ensure your query letter is not tossed into the agent’s computer waste basket. The advice includes the warning that the agent will decide in the first seven seconds – SECONDS – if he/she will read the entire letter, never mind if the synopsis or sample chapters will get so much as a cursory glance. Furthermore, the first three paragraphs must contain specific information in a particular order. Ugh! Which is the corect method – the agent’s demands or the instructor’s?

Now I’m beginning to second guess my decision to work with an agent. Is it worth it? I’ve read the blurbs on how an agent is the ticket to an author’s success, not in only getting connected to the right publisher, but also in supporting the author’s career. Do these benefits truly trickle down to agented authors?

Yes, I’m sounding cynical. But after a few years of being drawn into paying for a variety marketing schemes, the people benefiting from my novel is everyone but yours truly. Last week I received a quote from someone interested in doing a critique of my manuscript – $1,500, apparently a great deal. Maybe so, but that would require tremendous sales before I would see any profit. And, after an agent and a publisher takes his/her cut, well ….. I better update my will, if you know what I mean.

Forbidden was a joy to write, even thrilling. As I wrote Forbidden, I also worked daily on marketing my first novel and paid a heavy price in terms of time and money.  Is it all worth it? It feels a bit odd. Authors are the creators of these windows into a world of fantasy. But it appears we are the lowest rung on the ladder of appreciation and income. Authors have become a source of income for many professionals, feeding on our need to be published and hoping for sales.

Is being published worth it? Not really …. so far.


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Forbidden cover draft_0002
Draft of Forbidden’s front and back book cover (created by author, Carol Oates)


20 thoughts on “To publish … or not.

  1. Run, run, run from that person who wants to charge you $1500.00. What you need is to find a nice critique group, online or in person. Find authors whose work you enjoy and offer to swap critiques. That way you both win. And as far as finding an agent is concerned, most have individual preferences, and if they have taken the time to write them out, then you should take the time to do what they ask. This does make the querying stage time consuming, but it will make your query stand out from those who don’t follow what the agents want. As for if an agent is worth it or not, that is debatable. You need to decide what works best for you.


    1. Feather Stone

      You are so correct. Making an effort to write an excellent inquiry letter will make my ‘voice’ stand out from the crowd. Thank you for your words of encouragement, Melanie.


  2. Feather Stone

    Thank you for the sound advice, Melanie. It sounds like you’ve had the experienc to know what works and what right.


    1. Feather Stone

      I’ve been considering self publishing but worry that it will be costly (according to what other authors have said). Thanks for your words of encouragement, Sydney.


  3. There are several critique groups on life that fairly descent. Scribophile and Critiquecircle are two I like. I plan to Indie publish at first, and then do a hybrid thing, but I have no real advice or experience in that area yet. I was recently recommended a proofing/editing & content service that is way, way cheaper than what was given to you. Here is the link if you want to check them out.

    Unfortunately, I am told traditional now leave the majority of the market aspect to the author, especially if they are a new author. Anyway, good luck with our book. Do not give up. If you loved it your readers will love it, so keep your chin up.

    Juneta at Writer’s Gambit


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